The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier. Before you contact EWOQ with your complaint, you must first try to resolve the problem with your electricty, gas or water company.
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Case studies

Further information:

It is a condition of license that all reticulated (natural) gas providers who supply small retail customers in Queensland are members of EWOQ.

You can make a complaint to EWOQ about any of our members.

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A high bill due to estimated read error

A customer received a gas bill for an estimated read that was higher than she expected. She knew her usage patterns hadn't changed and she'd been away from the property for a significant period during the billing cycle.

She contacted the retailer, which couldn't help, so she approached EWOQ for assistance. We suggested she may have a gas leak, so she hired a plumber to investigate and confirmed there was no leak.

We then investigated further. The retailer acknowledged there was an issue in the region - a reader had been submitting estimated reads but marking them as actual readers. The retailer gave the customer with a $200 credit on her account and dealt with their employee's work performance.

The customer was satisfied with the outcome, as it resolved the high bill issue but also meant she'd be paying less than the same period of the previous year.

Gas meter upgrade causes intermittent interruptions

The customer’s problem began following a routine gas meter upgrade that caused intermittent interruptions to their gas supply. The customer contacted the retailer and distributor to check the meter and carry out gas pressure tests, but both were unable to find a reason for the faulty supply. After exhausting all possible options with their retailer and distributor, the customer contacted us to investigate.

We asked the distributor to inspect the new meter and supply pipes to rule out whether they were the cause for the interruptions. They uncovered that when the sun hit the new meter, the heat caused pressure to build up, triggering the safety valve on the meter and resulting in interruptions to the gas supply.

To resolve the quality of supply issue, the distributor made and fitted a cover for the meter and the supply pipes. The distributor then undertook further monitoring of the gas meter and no further gas interruptions were identified. The customer was satisfied that the quality and reliability of the gas supply once restored.

Account set up in error

A customer received bills for a natural gas account they did not set up with the retailer. The bills were addressed to the customer's name, but to a different street address.  The customer wrote to the retailer to advise they had not set up or authorised a natural gas account. They also raised the misuse of their personal information and concerns about the retailer possibly allowing a third party to establish an account under their name. The customer contacted EWOQ after receiving no response from their energy retailer.

Our investigation discovered that neither the customer nor another party requested a natural gas account with the retailer in the customer's name. We established the account was set up in error by the energy retailer. As a result, the gas account was closed and the charges reversed by the retailer. They also applied $100 credit to the customer's active electricity account as a goodwill gesture and issued a written apology to the customer. 

Ongoing bills for closed account

A customer requested their gas supply be disconnected by their retailer as it was no longer required and paid their final bill. Around 12 months later, the customer received a bill from the gas retailer. The customer contacted the retailer about the bill and noted the charges were listed as supply charges. The gas retailers advised the customer the bill would be cancelled and supply changes waived. One year later, the customer received another bill from the gas retailer. The customer contacted the retailer again who informed the bill would be cancelled, charges waived, and they would collect the gas meter which had already been removed by a qualified tradesperson. Two months later, the customer received another bill. As the gas retailer failed to stop billing a closed account, the customer contacted us for help.

We established that the distributor's records showed they had blocked the gas meter but had no record of removing said meter. The gas retailer issued bills as per this information available in the database. Our investigation prompted the distributor's database to be updated to reflect the meter being deregistered and removed. The gas retailer cancelled all bills wrongly issued to the customer since closing their account. 

Wrongly default listed

A customer found a default listing on their credit file from 2012 which was actioned by their previous gas retailer. The customer contacted the gas retailer who advised to contact the debt collection agency. The debt collection agency informed the customer that the listing was for a debt of over $1000 for a previous address. The customer had not received any gas bills or notices regarding the outstanding bills while living at that address. Both the gas retailer and debt collection agency declined to remove the customer's default listing. As the customer believed they had been wrongly default listed, they contacted us for help.

Our investigation revealed the gas retailer did not correctly finalise the customer's account, resulting in the account remaining active. The gas retailer had also issued bills and notices to the customer's previous address, rather than the new address the customer provided. The gas retailer accepted the default listing was made in error, recalled the default listing, and agreed the customer was not responsible for the debt over $1000. 

Payment plan to reconnect gas

A customer's gas supply was disconnected for not paying their outstanding debt. The customer contacted their gas retailer to advise they had received no prior notice of money owed, as bills were sent by email which they could not access at the time. The retailer advised the customer the debt was over $2000 and a payment of $1400 would be needed to reconnect their gas supply. The customer informed the retailer that they were on Centrelink and could not pay the amount requested. The customer was dissatisfied with the retailer's request to pay and the up-front amount they could not afford, so contacted us to help negotiate a payment plan.

Our investigation confirmed that the customers gas had been correctly disconnected as the retailer issued all relevant notices to the customer prior to disconnection. We negotiated with the retailer to accept minimum payments from the customer in view of their incapacity to pay large amounts from their Centrelink payments. The customer's gas was reconnected for an initial payment of $20. To help further, the retailer agreed to waive the reconnection fee and provided the customer with a Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme application. The retailer set up a short trial payment plan of $15 per fortnight, prior to assessment for their hardship program.

Customer not told about natural gas hot water system

The customer was a tenant in the property for over 18 months and was unaware that there was a natural gas hot-water system in operation. One day, the customer received a ‘Dear Occupier’ letter from the gas retailer, asking the customer to set up an account and pay the amounts owing. After calling the gas retailer, the customer was advised that the hot-water system was connected to the natural gas supply and they were responsible for the costs from the time they moved in. Not pleased with the outcome, the customer contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation, the gas retailer accepted that they had failed to provide timely notification to the customer regarding the provision of natural gas. The gas retailer agreed to waive the entire bill for the 18 month period, a total of $981.64, and establish an account for the customer who then accepted responsibility for paying the bill in the future.

Unexplained charges for gas services

Routine work was undertaken by the gas distributor at a three-unit residential complex. At some point a gas leak was identified and gas at the customer’s property was disconnected. A gas fitter was contracted to identify the source of the leak, however no leak was detected and the gas supply was restored to the customer’s property. The following week, the customer received an invoice in the mail for $94 relating to the services provided by the gas fitter. The customer contacted his gas retailer to enquire about the charges, however, an explanation could not be provided.

Outcome: On investigation, the distributor acknowledged that during the routine meter change a suspected gas leak was found. The gas supply to the customer’s property was disconnected as a precaution until a gas fitter could attend. The customer had been advised by the distributor’s representative that he would be billed if any work was undertaken on his property by the gas fitter. The gas fitter failed to find any leak however, in the process, the customer’s pilot light was extinguished. The gas fitter assisted the customer to relight the pilot, which involved the removal of wooden panelling around the hot water system and the invoice concerned this service. As a result of EWOQ’s investigation, the gas fitter agreed to waive the invoice for $94.

Increased tariff on amended gas account

In 2014, the customer noticed that he was not receiving the Queensland State Government Aged Pension Concession. He contacted his gas retailer who applied the concession and amended the previous 12 months’ bills. On reviewing the amended bills, the customer noticed that he had been charged at a higher tariff rate than that on the original invoices. On contacting his gas retailer, they were not able to explain the higher tariff rate, which led to him raising a dispute with EWOQ.

Outcome: EWOQ investigated the customer’s complaint and found that his natural gas account was originally established and billed on a business tariff, not a residential one. The retailer advised that this was because the original account had been on a business tariff and had not been changed to a residential tariff when the customer moved into the property. The request by the customer to apply his pension concession prompted the account to revert to a residential tariff, and amended billing reflected the higher tariff rate. As a gesture of good will, the gas retailer applied a credit of $46.67 to the customer’s account, which equated to the difference in the two tariff rates over the amended billing period. The gas retailer additionally applied another credit of $53.33 to the account for the inconvenience experienced, making total credits of $100.

What more can one do?

The customer was planning to demolish her house and had contacted her gas retailer to arrange for the gas service to be disconnected. Prior to the demolition she confirmed with her retailer that the work would take place. When the demolition contractor arrived at the property, he could not commence the demolition work as the gas supply was still connected. The customer contacted EWOQ and requested we contact the distributor to arrange for disconnection of the gas supply.

EWOQ frequently helps customers who are experiencing poor service from their distributors and retailers. In this case, EWOQ contacted the distributor and arranged to get the gas disconnected immediately, allowing the house to be demolished and work on a new home to start on time. In addition, due to the delay in having the service abolished, the retailer offered the customer a goodwill gesture of $100.

When we investigated the issue, the distributor admitted that it was possible no notice had been sent to the customer or his neighbours as the map the distributor used to coordinate advice to residents about planned outages did not include their properties. As a distributor is required to provide at least two business days' notice to residential properties for planned outages the customer was entitled to a Guaranteed Service Level payment. As a result of our intervention, the distributor offered the customer a Guaranteed Service Level payment of $26.00.

Harsh consequences for person in need

A customer entered into a payment plan with her retailer for an outstanding bill of $400. When the customer missed one payment her gas supply was disconnected. The customer advised EWOQ that she had informed her retailer she was experiencing financial hardship but the retailer did not provide any information about its hardship program or the government assistance available through the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS). The customer contacted EWOQ to assist with having her gas supply reconnected as soon as possible, to request that she be considered for the retailer's hardship program together with an application for HEEAS, and to be able to reinstate her payment plan at $50 per fortnight.

EWOQ contacted the retailer and arranged for the customer's gas supply to be reconnected. As a result of our negotiation with the retailer, the retailer also agreed to re-establish the customer's payment plan and discuss with the customer its hardship program. In addition, the retailer agreed to provide the customer with information on the government assistance available through HEEAS for customers experiencing financial hardship.

Wrongful disconnection affects apartment complex

In response to a request from the gas retailer, the gas supply to an entire residential unit complex was disconnected by the distributor. The request was made following a dispute with one of the occupants who had not responded to a letter from the retailer addressed to “Dear Occupant” asking them to settle their account. The owner of the unit complex attempted to have the gas reconnected however the retailer would not do so until gas consumption for the “Dear Occupant” account was paid. The account was only addressed to the street number of the complex and not to any particular unit. The disconnection resulted in 13 residential units and their occupants being without gas for cooking and hot water for two nights.

Outcome: EWOQ arranged to have unit complex reconnected the next day. On investigation, it was found that the request to disconnect the gas meter had previously been rejected by the distributor as it would have affected too many residents. However, due to an error, the distributor completed the disconnection upon a second request from the retailer. It was found that the gas consumption relating to the “Dear Occupant” account was for an unmetered service (gas cook top) most likely for a unit resident who had yet to establish an account. The unit complex owner was advised to engage the services of a gas fitter to identify the source of the gas consumption relating to this account. In addition, the owner was offered a $100 good will gesture from the retailer.

Estimated bills results in huge debt

The customer lived in an apartment complex, and had a natural gas meter that was not easily accessible without prior access arrangements being made with the building manager. On numerous occasions the customer contacted his retailer to make suitable arrangements for an actual meter reading, but with one exception these were unsuccessful. As a result, the customer received estimated bills for nearly three years which eventually led to a bill of $2,152 being received. Frustrated with the situation, the customer contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: EWOQ arranged for a photograph of the gas meter to be provided to the retailer which was accepted as an actual reading. A revised bill for $386 was then issued. Additionally, EWOQ investigated options to provide access to the meter. Details regarding meter access were updated in the retailer’s customer data base and the department responsible for meter reading was contacted to ensure there are no further issues.

Between a rock and a hard place

The customer was building a new house and had contacted her retailer to find out if gas supply was available in her street. The retailer confirmed that there was, and as it would take 20 business days to connect to her house she was advised to call back when the house was nearer to completion and closer to the move-in date. The customer purchased gas appliances and arranged with the builder and plumber/gas fitter to install the necessary fittings. When the customer contacted her retailer again to arrange for the gas supply to be connected, she was advised it would cost $4,000 as there was no gas supply available in her street. As all the appliances had been purchased and work had been undertaken on the building the customer was committed to continuing with the supply.

The customer was left in a difficult position. She could either refuse to connect to gas and be left in possession of appliances she did not need or she could pay the expensive connection fee. The customer acted reasonably in making inquiries of the distributor before purchasing the gas appliances. Had she been correctly advised that gas was not available she may have chosen not to proceed with her purchases. EWOQ considered that it was not fair and reasonable to charge the customer for connection given she had received, and acted on, erroneous advice from the distributor. We took the matter up with the distributor who decided not to charge the customer for her connection.